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Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau v. First State Orthopaedics

Plaintiff First State Orthopaedics, an orthopedic practice in Delaware, sued various insurance companies, seeking a declaratory judgment that the companies’ practice of responding to workers’ compensation medical bills with a form notice violated the Delaware Workers’ Compensation Act. The trial court ruled that the insurance companies violated the Act. But the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for certification of a Rule 23(b)(2) class action, holding that class certification was “unnecessary” because declaratory relief could be awarded in an individual action. In the trial court’s view, an individual judgment and class judgment were equivalent.

The plaintiff appealed the denial of class certification to the Delaware Supreme Court. Public Citizen filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff. The brief explains that Rule 23(b)(2) contains no “necessity” requirement and that the trial court’s theory of (b)(2) certification is wrong for several reasons.